Day 38 of exile. I’m not sure how much longer I can last.
Earlier this year, we had heard the enemy had infiltrated our community and took the initial precautions. I placed tanks of elderberry syrup, tea tree oil, and hand sanitizer at every entrance. I stood guard, threatening to dump buckets of Purell into a moat built out of placebos and denial should the enemy approach our gate. But it stayed away.
At first we laughed. It worked! How clever we were, never touching bathroom door handles with our bare hands and foregoing any public gathering. Sure, we hadn’t seen anyone who didn’t share our last name in eons. But I had my ways to communicate across enemy lines. “OMG THIS WINTER IS THE WORST!” I posted. My friends sent back faces showcasing a variety of emotions and we patted ourselves on the back for having achieved some sort of human interaction for the day.
Daily, my husband tunneled through the snow into the battle zone. Each morning, he texted me the casualty report. “Three people out with the sniffles. Two reports of the stomach flu. One suspicious sounding cough down the hall.” In the afternoon, I would survey our rations. Our total sun exposure for the past month came from the amount of time it took to bolt across the parking lot to the doctor’s office in sub-zero weather. It was quite possible the children were developing rickets and/or scurvy. But milk and oranges were housed in an encampment set squarely in enemy territory.
We decided to make do with our store of goldfish crackers and multivitamins.
The inhabitants of the fort grew listless, but no one had resorted to cannibalism yet. Fine, just one or two cases of cannibalism but it didn’t break the skin and toddlers just explore the worlds with their mouths so don’t judge, OKAY? We kept up our training with fitness exercises such as “run around the couch three hundred times” and “pile everything we own that’s stuffed into the hallway and jump on it” and “barricade the bathroom door shut so I can eat a piece of candy in peace.”
Those were the first casualties of the winter. Those poor chocolate bars and stuffed animals never stood a chance.
I tried to keep my plans a secret lest the enemy discover them. It became a game of cat and mouse. We scheduled play dates only to promptly break them once one party had been infiltrated. When a rendezvous absolutely needed to occur, we would ask a series of questions to ensure the other party hadn’t been compromised. “Are you sick? Are your kids sick? Have you been exposed to anyone who has been exposed to anyone with an illness in the last six months?”
Then we cancelled anyway, just to be sure. This was war. You didn’t know who you could trust.
All communication became virtual. We texted friends, video chatted family. Then we took a Lysol wipe to our phone screens, just to be sure. You can’t be too careful.
But alas. No fortress can withstand powers such as these. Our walls were breached.
It might have something to do with that enemy training camp I send my kids to three days a week. They come back singing their ABCs and covered in hidden combatants. I had considered installing a decontamination shower in our doorway, but the department of common sense ruled it unnecessary. #MakeWinterGreatAgain. I regret that decision now.
All the great houses fall eventually and ours was no exception. Air raid sirens rang out hourly from my children’s beds. Buckets and humidifiers were stationed in critical combat zones. We pulled out every device that could show a purportedly educational cartoon and set it at full blast. Tissues were also left at strategic places, but my soldiers regarded those as torture worse than the enemy itself.
Eventually, we struck a deal. The enemy would retreat from our fort if we agreed not to leave the premises until winter ended. It was quite possibly a trick, given the several feet of snow outside threatening not to melt until the spring after next.
Beer supplies are low. Attitudes and temperatures are negative. Send in the damn robins already.